Spring 2016 College of Engineering Commencement Ceremony (1 of 2)


[music] [applause] Candidates, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished faculty, honored guests: good afternoon and welcome. I am Kevin Pitts, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. On behalf of the College faculty and Dean Cangellaris, it is my privilege to welcome you to this graduation ceremony. We are delighted that you have taken the time to be with us this afternoon to celebrate this milestone in the life of your special graduate and to help us recognize his or her achievements. Candidates: Welcome to you. You made it. Well done. [applause] Final exams are finished. But not necessarily finished for all of you. No matter where you go or what you do, some of you will continue the dream that you overslept for your Physics 212 final. [laughter] You worked long and hard to reach this point. And you did that work in many settings. In large classes, in small project teams, in study groups and research groups, and some times alone in a library or laboratory. In a few moments, we will applaud you for that work. But you did not get here alone. You also enjoyed the support of your parents, your families, your loved ones, and your friends. I invite you, candidates, to thank them now with a round of your own applause. [applause] A number of people have contributed to our ceremony today. Let me take just a moment to thank them. Students carrying the gonfalons, the college banners, [student names] Student guides, [names]. Name readers, [student names], thank you. Behind the scenes of the staff of the Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering, [faculty names]. Thank you very much. Our music is provided by [band name]. A very special thank you goes to Jennifer Sans, Kay Kappes, and Assistant Dean Marie-Christine Brunet for their help in organizing this event and general all-around awesomeness. Audience, please join me in thanking these people. [applause] It is now my pleasure to introduce our commencement speaker, Sharon Wood. As you move on from this graduation celebration, you will often be reminded of Engineering at Illinois’s impact on the world. The important contributions of our faculty, students, and alumni. As your own careers progress, you will likely encounter many of the leaders that have passed through the same doorways that you have successfully navigated. Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome back to campus one of our very own successful alumni, Sharon L. Wood, Dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Wood earned her Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia, and her Masters degree and Doctorate in Civil Engineering at Illinois where she also served on the faculty for ten years. She joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1996. She is nationally recognized for her research on the earthquake response of reinforced concrete structures. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering And is the immediate past president of the American Concrete Institute. She has served on advisory committees for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, and the U.S. Geological Survey. In September 2014, she become the ninth dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin after serving as interim dean for one year. She also holds the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering and the Jack and Beverly Randall Dean’s Chair for Excellence in Engineering. In 2007, Dr. Wood was honored as a distinguished alumnae by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. And most recently, she delivered the keynote address for the WeGoCEE workshop here last fall to encourage top female graduates to pursue graduate degrees. As one of our peer institutions, our relationship with UT Austin is one of competition and collaboration. We also share a similar vision and mission: to educate future engineering leaders that work together to solve society’s problems and provide quality of life for everyone. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Wood back to Illinois. [applause] Thank you very much. Congratulations, graduates. Whether you fully realize it or not, today is a day that you will always remember. Commencement is one of those truly special days for both you, and your family and friends. It is an honor and a privilege for me to be here on your special day. And I want to thank my colleagues in the College of Engineering for inviting me to share this special day with you. When making a significant financial investment, we are always told that past performance should not be considered as a projection of future success. Well when it comes to engineering education at the University of Illinois, I am proud to tell you that the inverse of that adage is true. For generations, engineering graduates from the University of Illinois, have become some of the most successful and innovate leaders of our profession. Their success is a reflection of the culture of excellence that exists within the College of Engineering. You are now part of one of the world’s most distinguished and respected communities. Welcome to the University of Illinois Engineering alumni. As a graduate student and assistant professor, I remember meeting many alumni in key positions within the structural engineering profession. and being struck by their generosity and willingness to help me. They welcomed me into their networks, served as mentors, and provided invaluable opportunities for my professional development. Throughout my career, so many opportunities have been presented because of my affiliation with the University of Illinois. And I am sure that each of you will experience firsthand the power of the Illini network. It is a wonderful community of talented engineers that you are joining. I am confident that each of you will contribute to the community and embody the strengths that make this one of the best and most admired colleges of engineering in the world. Today, each of you are prepared to start your engineering careers in an era of extraordinary opportunity. Technology is evolving at breaking through barriers at an unprecedented rate. But the scopes of the challenges facing engineers are also increasing in their complexity. As engineers, you will be called upon to be the innovators, the problem solvers, the creative thinkers, the collaborators, who will deliver the new forms of sustainable energy, new ways to provide potable water to growing populations around the world, new ways of ensuring the security of our cyber infrastructure, and new medical devices that will save millions of lives. You will be called upon to lead real societal change. You will be called upon to make what once seemed impossible possible. And as graduates of the University of Illinois, you are prepared to answer that call. As you build your lives and careers over the years and decades ahead, you will most certainly be confronted with challenges that initially seem too big or too complex to overcome. But as an engineer, you have the daunting responsibility from never shying away from addressing the grand challenges that face our society and always striving to find better solutions for future generations. And as you leave campus today, and embark on your journey in the engineering profession, I encourage you to think about four important lessons that I have learned since I graduated from the University of Illinois 30 years ago. First, trust the fundamentals. When I talk with successful engineers today, the comment that I hear most frequently is that their college education provided them with a thorough understanding of engineering fundamentals. And that they have relied on these fundamentals throughout their careers. Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking that fundamentals aren’t exciting, and they’re not new. So, I’ll give you that. But they’re also a sort of strength within every great engineer. They provide the essential skills we need to solve a wide variety of problems. Trust the skills that you have developed here and know that the fundamentals will serve you well. You will need to continually stay abreast of new developments in your field and remain committed to lifelong learning. But your degree from Illinois, and the fundamentals that you learned in the College of Engineering, Will provide a strong foundation for your career. Second, take calculated risks. Traditionally, engineers tend to be risk-averse. But society needs your generation to think more broadly. I truly believe that is only when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zones that we can truly make remarkable discoveries. If you see an opportunity to be creative, I urge you to take it. If you take a chance and fail, you will have learned much more and be far better off than if you had never tried. As I reflect on my career, I can point to a few key occasions when I forced myself beyond my comfort zone. It was difficult at the time, but I can assure you that it always paid dividends. Shortly after I joined the faculty at the Cockrell School at the University of Texas at Austin, I was asked to lead a discussion at an upcoming international workshop. I was specifically instructed to come up with some off-the-wall ideas to ensure a lively discussion. Like everyone did back in the dark ages, I went to the library and spent a lot of time trying to read about new technologies. I tried to envision how some new sensor technologies could be used to reduce the number of deaths during an earthquake, enhance the resilience of structural systems, or accelerate the post-earthquake recovery. After the workshop, I decided that one of these ideas was worth pursuing. So I sent an email to a professor in Electrical Engineering whom I had never met and suggested that we talk about the possibility of submitting a proposal to the National Science Foundation. He listened patiently to my pitch and the politely listed all the reasons why my idea would never work. But then he threw out another idea. And that idea became part of an extremely successful collaborative partnership that lasted more than a decade. As I think back on this experience, I’m convinced that my career trajectory would have been different if I had not engaged a complete stranger with my harebrained idea. Fundamentally, each of us knows that we must take chances to create opportunities, but it is often difficult to make the necessary emotional investment when we are not confident that we will be successful. Throughout your engineering career, you will need to push yourself beyond the limits of what you think at the time are your personal or professional boundaries. And in many cases, your ideas and pursuits will not go as planned. But do not let the threat of failure stop you from these pursuits. Third, listen first. When I was appointed as head of an important committee within the American Concrete Institute a long-time friend and mentor offered me some advice. He said the most important thing I could do in this role is listen; really hear what my colleagues were saying. At first I was confused by this recommendation. Because I hoped that serving as chair was an opportunity for me to further my technical development. And to be honest, I wasn’t interesting in honing in on my management skills. But with time I’ve come to understand and appreciate the value of this advice. Leadership is not about having the loudest voice. It’s not about carrying the biggest stick. And most importantly, it’s not about you. Leadership is about collaboration. It’s about maximizing the potential of those around you. It’s about listening to your partners and constituents, making sound decisions, and choosing an appropriate path. And finally, pay it forward. On this special day, I encourage each of you to think about all the people who have contributed to your success. Remember the time and effort they spent in your life and the impact they had on your college experience. Perhaps it was a teacher who encouraged you to study engineering, or a practicing engineer who served as a mentor for a project, or a philanthropic organization that awarded you a scholarship. So many people, in addition to your family and close friends, invested in your education and volunteered their time to make sure you are the person you are today. The best way that you can pay them is to pay it forward. Help someone else just as they helped you. Volunteer with an outreach effort. Help support the advancement of STEM in the U.S. Or join a professional organization in your area of specialization. And don’t just do it once. Make it part of your life. Make it part of who you are. I became aware of a wonderful example of this just a few weeks ago. Each spring, our Women in Engineering program organizes an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” day which brings young girls from across Texas to Austin. Hundreds of our students, staffs, alumni, and corporate partners volunteer to make this an exciting day for the girls and to teach them about career opportunities in engineering. One of our current engineering students and a “girl day” volunteer, a young woman who happens to be a first generation college student, noted that the reason she is an engineering student today is because of her experience as a ten year old child attending our “girl day” event. All the volunteers who gave their time or supported the event may never really know the true impact of their generosity. They may never know that their actions changed this student’s life forever. Each of you can have the same impact on a future Engineering at Illinois student. I encourage you to find your passion, stay connected, and support future students as they follow in your footsteps. As I look out at the graduating class today, I am reminded of what makes this College remarkable and why I chose to attend the University of Illinois many years ago. This community is extraordinary and I encourage each of you to take advantage of the vast network of Illini engineers living and working throughout the world. We are many. And we are eager to help. Congratulations once again to the class of 2016 on a tremendous accomplishment. Make us proud. Go change the world. Thank you. [applause] A long-standing tradition at this ceremony is to have an address from the student who is currently President of Engineering Council. Let me introduce to you that student, Srini Srikumar. An organization of nearly 90 engineering student societies, Engineering Council sponsors many activities including: Engineering Expo job fairs and Engineering Open House, an annual showcase that brings 20,000 visitors to the College over two days. As Engineering Council President, Srini not only manages this large enterprise, he serves as a key contact between the Engineering student body and College administration. He has been articulate and effective in this role and it has been a pleasure to work with him. Srini is from Cupertino, California and is graduating this spring with a major in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Business. He has been part of the Engineering Council since his freshman year and has signed to work full-time in consulting for PWC after graduation. Please welcome our Engineering Council President, Srini Srikumar. [applause] Thank you, Dean Pitts. Before I begin, it’s tradition for the graduation speaker to take a picture with the graduating class so since we’re kinda split up here, I’m gonna take two different selfies: one on this side and one on this side. Shout out to you, MatSEs. [applause] You can find that posted to my Snapchat after this graduation. If you wanna know what it is, you can ask me afterward. Alright, let’s do this. Good afternoon faculty, family, and friends. And to my fellow graduates: congratulations. Graduating from Illinois with a degree in Engineering is a feat that is nothing short of extraordinary. Many of us have spent the last few years trying to solve some of the most complex problems that have potential society-wide implications. Now it’s time to deal with a couple different sets of problems. Taxes, and trying to convince yourself that another instant noodle dinner is not a good decision. Now, as a fellow graduate, it’s hard for me to try and give some profound pieces of advice, but I will share my experience and thoughts and hopefully that resonates with many of you. When I say Illinois engineer, the words innovative, intellectual, and hard-working all come to mind. Over the years, though, one of the most defining qualities of an Illinois engineer is impact. Graduating from this College not only signifies that you are a great engineer, but more importantly, you are a person who understands what it means to make a difference to those around you. The impact that you have had on this campus is just the tip of the iceberg. Take what you have learned within the confines of this campus, and learn to impact the lives of those around you. A world-class education has taught us how to think and believe that our wildest dreams can be a reality. Never forget that no matter what you do you will always be an Illinois engineer and use that to lift those around you to achieve something great. Recently, I began to see many of my friends who are graduating here today host events where they invited anyone and everyone who has had an impact on their college career and it really made me understand the engineering community here at Illinois. This community expands beyond fellow students and includes a diverse group of mentors, faculty, professors, family, and friends. What really makes Illinois great is that the people come together from all different backgrounds and support one another in their pursuits. The Illinois experience is only as valuable as the people you meet and the meaningful relationships that you create. So know that even after you leave this campus, there are people here who still care about you and would love to know what you’re up to. As engineers, were are taught about things in terms of absolutes and perfections. Every decision that we make is backed by a theorem or equation, and our goals also stem around perfecting something that we do. This next chapter of our lives won’t be as simple as balancing equations and we can’t predict all the variables that we may encounter. The path to your goals is often filled with potholes, but that’s what makes it fun. Taking things in strides and living in the moments is something that may challenge all of us, but hopefully will allow for many of us to embrace the adventure. We are lucky at Illinois Engineering. The people around us are some of the best and brightest and always have us challenging what is possible. The engineering community is all about collaboration and helping one another succeed. So never forget the people that helped you get to where you are today and no matter the uncertainty of the future, always look to be an Illinois engineer everywhere that you go. Congratulations to the class of 2016 and thank you. [applause] It is now my privilege to introduce Dean Cangellaris, Dean of the College of Engineering. Andreas Cangellaris is the M. E. Van Valkenburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He joined the ECE department at Illinois in 1997 and served as head of the department from 2008-2013. He was a co-leader and co-founder of iFoundry, which is our incubator for educational innovation. In June 2013, he was named Dean of the greatest engineering college in the world. Professor Cangellaris’s expertise and research interests are in applied and computational electromagnetics. He is a fellow of IEEE. In 2005, he received the Alexander von Humboldt research award for outstanding contributions to electromagnetic theory. He is a recipient of the U.S. Army Research Laboratories Director Coin in 2011. The IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society 2012 Distinguished Educator Award for outstanding contributions as a teacher, mentor, and role model for students in the microwave profession. On a personal level, I know Dean Cangellaris to be passionate about Illinois Engineering and delivering the best possible education and preparation to our students. Ladies and gentlemen, Dean Cangellaris. [applause] What a day. Congratulations, graduates. On behalf of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, I would like to thank you all for giving us the opportunity to be part of your preparation for the future. We are very proud of you; all of you. You are our College’s latest gift to the world. What you will choose to do with your life is your right and your privilege. I’m confident in your ability to succeed and I look forward to all the good things that will happen to the world because of you. You start as engineers, but who knows what else people will call you as you go about your life’s journey. Don’t let names and stereotypes and titles confine your aspirations in any way. If there is one thing I would dare use to describe what you are, the one thing I would dare say all that all of us at Engineering at Illinois strive to teach you to be is agents of optimism, change, and action. And with this in mind, I have a favor to ask. I want you to be the agents of optimism that the world needs. To look at every challenge as a problem that we will solve as we have done over and over again in the past. And by doing so, the world will advance. I want you to be the agents of change. Change that will liberate us from the old ways and the failures of the past and will launch us onto the new and the better. And I want you to be the agents of action. Actions that understand that the pace of progress is a yard stick by which the impact of civilizations is measured. Be proud Illini. I-L-L! I-N-I! I-L-L! I-N-I! Congratulations. [applause] Well, let’s start now with the important business at hand. I would like to invite Professor Rob Rutenbar, Department of Computer Science to introduce the candidates for degrees in Computer Science. [applause] Thank you, Dean Cangellaris. Will candidates please rise and approach the stage? [cheering] Dean Cangellaris, I am honored to present these candidates for degrees in the Department of Computer Science. These are the pioneers that understand that the 21st century is the century of data and information in all of its forms. They spent the last years learning how to manipulate this information as the critical raw material to generate new inventions and other amazing stuff. Hardware stuff. Software stuff. Firmware stuff. Mobile stuff. Enterprise stuff. Supercomputer stuff. Snapchat. Incredible, vital, essential, key technologies. They join a cohort of nearly 10,000 other Illini computer scientists who have come before them and done, themselves, amazing things. Companies like Netscape, PayPal, match.com. I have every expectation that, like those that have gone before them, they, too, will do remarkable things. I can’t wait. [degree candidates read] [applause] (I need some sound here) Alright. Thank you, Professor Rutenbar. I would like now to ask Professor Bill Sanders, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to present the candidates for degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering. [applause] ECE candidates for graduation, please make yourself heard and approach the podium. [cheering] Dean Cangellaris, I am pleased to introduce this group of candidates for graduation. They are the newest stars in a department whose graduates have created an incredible legacy, changing the world in unimaginable ways. Founded in 1891, the department’s graduates have created sound on film, ultrasound for medical use, the transistor, the integrated circuit, PLATO, the plasma display, practical photonics, the Tesla car, computer-aided design, the Kindle, and supercomputing, among many other world-changing accomplishments. While these accmomplishments exceed any other Electrical and Computer Engineering department in the world, it is today’s graduates that will do it all over again inventing the future of our field. [applause] For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering [degree candidates read] Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering [degree candidates read] Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering [degree candidates read] Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering [degree candidates read] [applause] Wow. ECE candidates for graduation, you may be seated. [applause] Thank you, Professor Sanders. Next, I would like to invite Professor Rakesh Nagi Department Head of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering to present the candidates for degrees in ISE. [applause] Thank you, Dean Cangellaris. May the degree candidates from the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering please rise and approach the podium. [applause] Dean Cangellaris, I would like to present this innovative group of degree candidates for graduation. Engineers make things. Industrial and Systems engineers make things better. We dream of an optimal world. A world without inefficiencies and one without waste. We not only innovate products, but also processes, complex supply chains, and we manage complex health care systems. Our graduates go on to take on C-level positions in most companies. Financial engineers bound risk and uncertainty and create tremendous wealth, for individuals and for nations. These graduates will go on to lead the new world. Degree candidates, please come forward. Master of Science in Industrial Engineering [degree candidates read] For the degree of Bachelor of Science in General Engineering [degree candidates read] For the degree of Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering [degree candidates read] [applause] See, I promised you we’d be quick. Congratulations, graduates. You may please be seated. [applause] Thank you, Professor Nagi. Next, I would like to invite Professor David Cahill Department Head of Materials Science and Engineering to present our candidates for degrees in Materials Science and Engineering. [applause] Candidates for degrees in Materials Science and Engineering, please rise and approach the platform. Dean Cangellaris, the faculty of the greatest Materials Science and Engineering Department on the planet are extremely proud of the accomplishments of these graduates. They themselves are made of amazing matter. They are strong but flexible. They’re smart and adaptive to their environmental conditions. And they’re unyielding in their pursuit of excellence in everything they do. Their deep knowledge and their skills of analyzing everything from silicon atoms to super alloys will serve them well wherever their careers bring them. For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering [degree candidates read] For the degree of Masters of Science in Materials Science and Engineering [degree candidates read] For the degree of Bachelors of Science in Materials Science and Engineering [degree candidates read] [applause] Congratulations to the candidates for degrees from Materials Science and Engineering. Please be seated. Thank you. Thank you, Professor Cahill. Well, I guess, here we are. Congratulations to all of you. [applause] We are very proud of you. As proud of you as your parents are. And even more proud of you as we look into the future. Well done. [applause] In just a few moments we will conclude this ceremony. To families, friends, and guests, thank you for being with us today. After the singing of Hail to The Orange, we ask both graduates and guests please remain at your seats while the platform party recesses. After the platform party has left the arena, graduates will file out. Friends and family members, please plan to meet your graduates outside of Huff Hall. We have the second half of a double header to prepare for. We do have one more important piece of business to conduct. Graduates, would you please stand. [applause] You came to this campus carefully selected for your talent and ability. You have worked hard to earn one of the finest engineering educations available anywhere and we are proud of you. You are now graduates of the College of Engineering at The University of Illinois and of your respected departments and degree programs. I invite you to signify that fact now by moving your tassel from right to left. [applause] Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished faculty, honored guests, Dean Cangellaris, I give you our graduates. [applause] To close this ceremony, I now invite everyone to stand and join with our graduates in singing Hail to the Orange. [music] Hail to the orange Hail to the blue Hail Alma Mater Ever so true So true We love no other So let our motto be Victory Illinois Varsity [cheering] [music]

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